Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Kung Fu Society
UCL’s very own Wing Chun Kung Fu Society was established by Sifu Andrew Sofos in 1987. Wing Chun is, in fact, one of the most realistic and explosive martial arts you can learn. It’s a simple but effective style of Kung Fu where age, size and gender pose no barrier. Its most famous practitioner is the late Bruce Lee who understood its effectiveness and so based much of his Jeet Kune Do on Wing Chun. Most importantly, this martial art is not a strength competition – instead it uses simple physics to meet its intentions. On a personal level, learning Wing Chun gives people the ability to defend themselves in the real world as well as raising their confidence.
While “Kung Fu” may spark images of people attempting a quadruple flip with a flying kick from a rooftop, the lessons at Astor College typically begin with a 2000 year old stretching routine before moving on to basic stance and punching work. Following this, instructors will typically train footwork, teaching how to move effectively at close quarters considering that Wing Chun’s range is around two feet. This ultimately leads to training realistic and practical applications, and of course the famous chain striking until the windows of the gym condensate with sweat. The aim is to get students throwing at least eight devastating and accurate punches per second. Classes are intense but measured; students feel pushed to, but never over, their limit.
In martial arts, grading is often a very important factor and our society is no exception to this. Gradings are designed to challenge students’ mental and physical skills to allow them to excel. Their next grading will take place just before the Christmas break later this year and will test their skills in the basic principles of Wing Chun as well as their ability to defend themselves in realistic situations.
Classes are organised by Master Andrew Sofos (pictured above), a renowned master of the art having carried out security work for the likes of Lennox Lewis and Steven Segal! He is involved with a great number of charities such as GOSH and Cancer Research and was consequently awarded the freedom of the City of London last year, signing the roll of the guild just a couple of months ago.
Wing Chun is not simply a style, but a science. It is an exciting and rewarding time and our classes have a phenomenal, positive buzz. Both instructors and students are all looking forward to what the rest of this academic year has to offer them and they continue enjoying learning skills that could some day save someone’s life.